Attention Brief Writers. New Writing Manual from the Supreme Court of Ohio.

The Supreme Court of Ohio has just done its first complete overhaul of what began in 1985 as the Manual of Citations ( for those of my generation, think bluebook, unless that makes you think of taking law school exams).  Revisions were released in July of 1992 and July of 2002 (to conform the revisions effective May 1 2002).  This Manual supersedes all of the above.  The Manual has three parts. Part I is the Manual of Citations. Part II is the Style Guide.  Part III is the Structure of a Judicial Opinion. The Court says this in its preface: “The Supreme Court will follow this manual in its opinions. Although judges and lawyers are not required to conform to the Writing Guide, they are strongly encouraged to use it in writing opinions and briefs.” (emphasis mine).

I’m not going to summarize this 154 page document, but am giving readers the link below.  Here are a few favorites.

  • At long last,Ohio is joining the rest of the civilized law world and putting the date at the end of the citation instead of the beginning.  I don’t know how we ever got off on the other system, although I seem to recall, perhaps incorrectly, that late Chief Justice Moyer thought the first thing people wanted to know was the age of the case, and thought it would be helpful to put that first. 
  • When citing the Ohio Constitution, the article comes first, then the section.  That’s how it always should have been, but wasn’t.
  • Federal circuits are now identified using Cir. —e.g. 6th Cir. Instead of CA6.
  • Citations to Ohio Bar Reports and Ohio Opinions are gone for good
  • Citations to state appellate cases will now include their district, in the parenthetical right before the date (which is now at the end!)

 The Court draws a clear distinction between how to cite cases decided before and May 1 2002:

Pre May 1 2002 example from the manual—Lorain Cty. Bar Assn. v. Kennedy, 95 Ohio St.3d. 116, 766 N.E.2d 151 (2002).

 Post May 1 2002-(note, no date at beginning or end, because the date is in the web citation):

Example from manual: Bowling Green v. Godwin, 110Ohio St.3d 58, 2006-Ohio-3563, 850 N.E.2d 698.

 And remember that in the post-2002 world, use paragraph numbers, not page numbers, to pinpoint text.

There’s lots, lots more!

Access the new Writing Manual here


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